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The story of the crossword takes us from the beaches of D-Day to the banks of the river Neva, via Fleet Street and the Old Bailey. It involves the most fiendish setters, such as Torquemada and Ximenes; famous fans (both real and imaginary) from P G Wodehouse to Frank Sinatra, Inspector Morse to Reggie Perrin.
In this talk you'll discover how crosswords have featured in films such as Brief Encounter and songs by Madness and Ian Dury; how they intersect with espionage, jokes, class and morality; and how they reflect back how our language and behaviour has changed over the last century. You'll also discover how listening to white noise can help you do a crossword, why you should start in the bottom right-hand corner, and why cryptic crosswords are actually easier than quick (honestly).
Two Girls, One on Each Knee is a book about language and how it speaks to itself, twisting and transforming through cryptic clues before resolving itself, with a bit of luck, into an answer. Where else would you find words such as Intussuscept, Obtemperate, Zibet and Raisiny?
Alan Connor is a journalist, screenwriter and crossword expert who freelances for the Guardian, writing twice weekly for their crossword blog. He has contributed pieces about language for the BBC and the Guardian and works in radio and television, writing with Charlie Brooker and Sue Perkins.
His most recent writing was A Young Doctor's Notebook, a TV adaptation of Mikhail Bulgakov stories starring Daniel Radcliffe and Jon Hamm.